Spelling Bee is a funny reminder of middle-school awkwardness playing at Toronto’s Randolph Theatre
Full disclosure: Spelling Bee (playing at the Annex Theatre) is one of my favourite shows. Everything about it–the affectionate parody of middle-school awkwardness, the cringe-inducing audience participation, the surprising depth–hits the right buttons. Clever, but not dickish; emotional, but not melodramatic.
Set in a suburban gymnatorium, nine spellers (including several audience volunteers), each having conquered their own school’s competition, have advanced to the county final. The winner of today’s bee will move onto Washington’s national championship. The stakes are high, and as the spellers get picked off one at a time, we get brief glimpses into their worlds: Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, who wants nothing more than to make her two moms proud; Leaf Coneybear, trying to prove himself good at anything; William Barfée, whose only friend is the dictionary.
What makes this show unique is how readily it mixes the frivolous with the serious, and how wholeheartedly it embraces both extremes. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry” is a tremendous cliché, but yes: an audience member did, in fact, piss herself laughing.
And, yes: moments later, several people were daintily rubbing the tears from their eyes.
What a show, eh?
This moving solo performance honoring an ailing parent is playing at Toronto’s Videofag
The Girl In The Picture Tries To Hang Up The Phone is a solo show written and performed by Hume Baugh at Videofag. It is the journey Baugh takes to celebrate his mother’s life, to understand who she was and to heal from the pain of losing her.
The performance begins with Baugh presenting a photo projection. It’s a black-and-white shot of a group of people mid-action while a young girl looks into the camera. This is the performer’s mother. Baugh then calls for a sound cue. It is the muffled sound of of somebody fumbling to hang up an analogue phone. These two cues, Baugh explains, represent the poles of life. Read the rest of this entry »
Tis the season, as trees awkwardly make their way into livingrooms to be set up and lit up for the holiday stretch, for wallet-friendly theatre fun fit for the whole family. A relaxing reprieve right before the mall crowds and pre-holiday frustrations really settle in, this is the best time to bundle up your little one and take the whole gang along to see Scrooge bah-humbug his way to the stage or your favorite Robert Munsch book brought to life.
Here is what’s going on in Toronto theatre this week. There are several great shows to catch for the week of December 2nd, 2013. ** Shows marked with the double asterisks and in red are the ones that make Wayne, our Managing Editor, wish he could exist in multiple parallel universes so he could check them all out.
Two life rejects explore love in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at Toronto’s Brockton Collective Studio
It’s always exciting to see a play in a new venue and the Brockton Collective Studio, currently featuring Danny & The Deep Blue Sea, charmed me the minute I walked in. It is obviously a multi-purpose space, with one end featuring the curved wall characteristic of a photo studio. A long bar stretches across from it, serving beer to the audience as we waited for the play to begin. The bar then became the first set of the play, a deserted dive in the Bronx where Roberta and Danny meet. Read the rest of this entry »
007-themed improv and sketch take Toronto’s Comedy Bar stage in Provocateur
Provocateur (playing at the Comedy Bar) knows how to have fun. Set in the Spy Universe — James Bond, Sydney Bristow and Sterling Archer walk into a premise — and high on camp, this mostly-improvised-partially-scripted show explores life after a pandemic which has wiped out North America. British Intelligence is aggressively pursuing quarantines and a cure; the Russian agents have secrets to keep; and aside from hitting a few pre-written plot points, nobody really knows how the story ends.
By Gian Verano
Ballet Creole transforms Handel’s Messiah into a vibrant dance production at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre
Well folks, it’s that time of year again. That wonderful time when the city is aglow with festive decorations and holiday cheer. Since 2002, Soulful Messiah – a Ballet Creole production – has been a Christmas staple for many of Toronto’s dance aficionados.
By Emma Letki
Unit 102 brings Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to life at Toronto’s Parkdale Theatre
This was my first time seeing the great Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and I am so happy that it was Unit 102’s production that I saw. They used their intimate Parkdale Theatre to its full potential and transported the audience to 44 BCE.
For anyone, like myself, not familiar with Julius Caesar here is a basic break down: Cassius and Brutus, played by Luis Fernandes and Brendon Smith, along with a handful of other men decide that Caesar, Carmine Lucarellli, has to be taken down. Read the rest of this entry »
By Megan Mooney
An uplifting romantic comedy for the holidays, Parfumerie is playing at Toronto’s Young Centre
I walked into the theatre exhausted and ready for some light, feel-good theatre. Luckily that’s exactly what was in store with Soulpepper‘s Parfumerie, on stage now at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District.
Even though the piece seems to have become somewhat of a holiday tradition around these parts, this was my first time seeing the Soulpepper production. I was first struck by the absolutely luscious set. It was so beautiful. The show hadn’t even started and I was already in a better mood. I couldn’t stop staring at the revolving doors that were the entrance to the shop. Why aren’t revolving doors that beautiful these days? But I digress.
By Wayne Leung
Mirvish presents the Tony Award-winning musical Once in Toronto
When you hear the term “Broadway musical” you might picture singers with big, brassy voices belting their emotions to the rafters while massive hydraulic sets rise from trap doors, chandeliers crash and life-sized animal puppets parade down the aisles. Broadway shows can get to be a bit much even for those of us who are fans of the admittedly chintzy and frequently over-the-top genre.
Once, adapted from the 2006 film of the same title, is none of the above. Despite the fact the show won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical it is the antithesis of the typical Broadway musical; it’s an intimate story told in a beautifully understated way that feels so genuinely personal and that’s precisely what makes the show so impactful. Once is a Broadway show for people who don’t like Broadway shows. Read the rest of this entry »